The social-justice smugness...does not seem to bode well for what will follow. And indeed, a few pages later...Ms. Gray introduces slavery as if readers have never heard of it ... And then suddenly, mercifully, the scolding ends ... Gray persuasively argues that the mothers were crucial in shaping the habits and actions of their sons ... Gray’s sensitivity to the shifting and sometimes unkind judgments of history makes even stranger her inclusion of the contemporary grievances that appear at the start of the book ... It would be a shame if readers were to be put off by the faddishness and miss what is otherwise a terrific and insightful double biography. Stick with it past page 53.
Frank and lively ... An ingeniously conceived and elegantly executed dual portrait of Jennie Churchill and Sara Roosevelt ... Gray’s clever biographical construct has its limitations. There is no record of the two women ever meeting ... Happily, Gray makes little attempt to write around these problems, instead letting each woman be the central character in her own distinct drama.
Gray’s impeccable research and insightful look into social constraints of the time bring these women to life, highlighting the often-overlooked ways Jennie and Sara shaped not only their own destinies but those of their sons. Perfect for literary nonfiction, history, women’s-history, and biography readers.
Compassionate and vivid ... Gray strikes an expert balance between the big picture and intimate glimpses of each woman. It’s an enlightening study of two mothers’ crucial influence upon sons who would make history.